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tv   Book Discussion on Obamas Enforcer  CSPAN  June 29, 2014 10:00am-11:01am EDT

10:00 am >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. on c-span2. here's our primetime lineup for tonight. .. >> the roberts court is quietly rewriting constitutional law in areas such as free speech, privacy, voting rights and presidential power.
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that all happens tonight on c-span2's booktv. >> john fund and hans von von sa cover are next -- von spakovsky are next on booktv. they argue thatñi eric holder ad the lawyers he surrounds himself with have transformed the justice department into a stronghold of legal activism. they also talk about attorney general holder's involvement with recent scandals surrounding the atf and the surveillance of journalist james rosen. this is about an hour. >> why don't we go ahead and get, get started. i would remind people if they would just take a moment to turn off their cell phones, i'd appreciate that.sww there we go, somebody's listening to me. [laughter] i'm john malcolm, i'm the director of the edwin meese center for legal and judicial studies. we are here today to discuss a new book entitled "obama's
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enforcer: eric holder's justice department." t the book is a thorough, provocative and unsparing account of the department of justice under the tenure of attorney general eric holder. it describes a justice department that is puff sized -- sufficient fused with hyperpartisanship and racialism. it describes a department that is preoccupied with imposing its version of racial justice and which has no qualms about bending, ignoring or breaking laws to suit its purposes, no qualms about attempting to disrelate conservatives who served in the prior administration or who still serve at the department of justice, and no qualms about covering up its own dirty laundry such as operation fast and furious. we are fortunate to have with us today the co-authors of this book, hans von spakovsky and john fund who previously collaborated on "who's counting:
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how fraudsters and bureaucrats put your votes at risk," which was published in 2012. to my immediate left is john fund, an award-winning journalist who's been referred to as the tom payne of the modern congressional reform movement. john is currently the national affairs columnist for national review magazine and is a frequent analyst for fox news channel. he's the author of several books and a former columnist and member of the editorial board of "the wall street journal." to my far left is hi friend and -- my friend and colleague hans von von spakovsky, senior fellow here at the meese center, and he is a former presidential appointee to the federal election commission. prior to joining the commission in 2006, hans served as a counsel to the assistant attorney general in charge of the civil rights division at the department of justice. please join me in welcoming our panelists.
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>> thank you all for coming, i'm john fund. before we begin i thought i'd give you an update on the news which touches on the justice department. you probably have heard the story that last friday the irs notified congress it had lost two years of lois lerner's e-mails. the dog ate my e-mails for two years. well, the dog was very hungry, because today the irs quietly told congress that it has lost the e-mails of six other key players in the irs scandal. including those of nicole flax who was the chief of staff to the former commissioner, steven miller, who was fired in the wake of targeting conservative nonprofit scandal.
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so clearly, this dog has now eaten seven employees' e-mails, and i sure hope they send him to the pound soon, because he is doing untold damage in trying to conduct this investigation. the reason why this touches on the justice the president, of course, is the -- justice department, of course, is the justice department has been moving with glacial pace. i can't say they haven't interviewed anyone, but of all the players i know, they haven't gotten to them yet, and it's only been 13 months. so they must be moving with all deliberate speed. in addition, the head of the investigation is barbara bosserman who is a career justice department trial attorney, but she's also one of the most important obama campaign donors, almost $7,000 to a president obama's -- to president obama's original election campaign and an original supporter starting all the way back in the primary
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season of 2008 when hillary clinton was the clear front runner. of course, there is no conflict of interest here according to the justice department, not even, to quote president obama, a smidgen of evidence that there is a conflict of interest. sp) i'm not here to directly address the irs scandal, although that may come up in questions. what i would like to talk about before hans goes into more detail in our book is a little bit about the record of the obama administration's rather remarkable expansion of executive power and authority. as you to know, every president has the right and responsibility to exercise his full constitutional powers, to implement his electoral mandate and to resist encroachment on those powers by the legislature and judicial branches. however, this president has increasingly taken upon himself powers and authority that previous presidents never have,
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and there are some egregious examples. back in 2011 president obama rejected the notion that he, as he put it, quote: i can just suspend deportations of illegal immigrants through executive order, unquote. as he acknowledged back this many 2011, there are laws on the books of congress, and for me to ignore those mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president, unquote. that was then, this is now. congress then refused to enact the dream act which affected illegal aliens under the age of 18 who had come to this country largely through no fault of their own. congress' failure to act, the obama administration then reasoned justified adoption of the so-called deferred action policy which does precisely what congress refused to do when it declined to pass the dream act. it exempted from deportation up to two million illegal aliens who were children when they came to the united states. similarly, the administration has announced it will not
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enforce immigration laws with respect to illegal aliens who are parents or legal guardians of u.s. citizens. secondly, the obama department of education effectively amended core requirements of the no child left behind act by granting states wholesale waivers in return for their agreement to adopt policies of the department rather than congress which is the law-making branch. and lastly, when the senate refused over an extended period of time to confirm president obama's nominees to the national laborãrelations board, president obama gave all of them temporary appointments under the recess appointments clause notwithstanding the senate was meeting every third day in pro forma sessions and, therefore, was not in recess. president obama has declared the senate's pro forma sessions a practice which dated back over 60 years a nullity and, thus, presumed to overrule the senate's judgment as to when it was in recess. the administration made the extraordinary argument before
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the supreme court which is due to rule on this case in the next week or so that the senate could, of course, retain its recess power by just remaining in session continuously, forever. that would be the only remedy that they would have. to avoid a recess appointment. this record, extreme positions on the scope of federal power, has generally left even sympathetic judges to a liberal president unimpressed and, frankly, this opposition. in opposition. one of the more remarkable distinctions of the obama administration since 201 has been the supreme court has ruled against the justice department's position on key issues approximately a dozen times. depending on how you characterize the decision. at least 10, probably 11, possibly 12. these involve everything from
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religious freedom to property rights to freedom of information act requests. it goes down the line. i'll just give you a couple of interesting examples. they begin -- these are all unanimous defeats by the department of justice at the hands of the supreme court. sack v. the environmental protection agency, the justice department tried to prevent a family from defending itself in contesting ludicrous order from federal bureaucrats. basically, the ebe epa -- epa directed this family that was trying to build a house in a subdivision in idaho, it demanded they give the epa access to it. failure to comply would subject them to a fine of $75,000 a day. justice was effectively defending was the right to put the sacketts into a catch 22 situation; either they complied with the epa's rules, or they faced fines of up to $75,000 a
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day while waiting for the environmental protection agency to sue and basically denying the sacketts their day this court. the supreme court rejected this 9-0. then we have the case of u.s. very jones. the justice department essentially tried to convince the supreme court that the fourth amendment's protections against search and seizure should not prevent the government from tracking every american at any time without any reason. believe it or not, justice went into court and argued that the police should be able to attach the gps device to your car without a search warrant or even any reason to believe you had committed a crime or were even about to commit a crime. the justice department's arguments fell on deaf ears. justice sotomayor, president obama's own nominee to the court, chastised the justice department for, quote: invading privacy interests long afforded and undoubtedly provided to fourth amendment protection, unquote.
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and i could go on. this is a remarkable record of defeat. in fact, if you look back over the last two or three terms, the obama administration's justice department has succeeded before the supreme court only about 40% of the time. that is compared to an average of over 70% for previous be presidents in the last half century. to put that into perspective, they have failed twice, over more than twice as often as the clinton administration and more than three times as often as the bush administration. this is a record that, frankly, does not put them in good stead with the legal community, and i believe in the next couple of weeks we may see a couple of more unanimous decisions, perhaps even on the recess appointment question, that will come down and further tarnish the justice department's record. now, even liberals are starting to wake to this. jonathan turley who is a very distinguished professor of law at george washington university has said he is very concerned
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that there's a shifting of gravity
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law, a whole range of things. and for some of that and, of course, in preparation for your questions, hans can pick p the pace now -- pick up the pace now. thank you. [applause] >> the real question is why should you care about this. >> well, i'll tell you why, and i say this as a veteran of the justice department where i worked for four years. the justice department is the most powerful and largest law enforcement agency in the u.s. they can make or break any individual and any business. they can ruin you economically, they can put you in jail. and we should all fear a justice department that is politicized, is not pursuing justice the way it should because that kind of abuse of power is, frankly, dangerous to our freedom and to our liberty. and i will tell you that one of the people we interviewed for this book who was hired during
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the clinton administration said to us that eric holder's the worst attorney general since mitchell under nixon which, to most veterans of the department will tell you, they consider to be the nader of the justice department. now, part of this book is talking about how eric holder came to the justice department. and while there's been a lot of discussion of his tenure over the ten years, many people forget he was the number two guy there during the clinton administration. and, in fact, he was the go-to guy for the white house. why? because they didn't trust janet reno to make the right political decisions. but they trusted eric holder to do that. and that's the key thing for you to understand here, is that eric holder is an i'd log, and he considers -- idealogue, and he considers himself the president's attorney first, the attorney general second. and that is a very big problem with the attorney general.
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now, some will characterize this as attar san attack. it is not -- as a partisan attack. it is not. we have had very good, very ethical, very professional attorney generals in the past under both democratic and republican administrations, but i'm afraid if you read this book, you're going to come to the same conclusion we did, that we don't have that with the current attorney general. and i'll give you just one example of how this is not something new with this attorney general. that is something that happened during the clinton administration. i'm sure most of you have heard about the mark rich pardon in which he helped engineer a pardon for someone who was an international fugitive which is -- i'm not sure that had ever happened before, you know? the president has the authority, there's a pardons office at the justice department that veterans are familiar with, and, yeah, we know about this pardon that was given to someone who had not been arrested, had not stood trial, had not been convicted
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and was in court, but somebody who had fled the united states abroad after rich's wife gave a lot of money for building the new clinton library. but that's not actually one of the worst things that eric holder engineered. one of the worst things that he engineered was another series of pardons for 16 terrorists. there were 16 terror itselfs of the faln, a puerto rican independence group. they had been involved in 130 bombings, armed robberies, six killings and hundreds of injuries in new york, chicago and elsewhere. the federal judge who sentenced them said that if the death penalty had been available, he would have given it to them. they were totally unremorseful. in fact, in court when they were being sentenced, they threatened the judge, they threatened the
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federal judge who was sentencing them. the career pardon attorney at the justice department was were the fbi, prosecutors, victims. and you know what? they hadn't sought pardons. none of the 16 terrorists in federal prison had sought pardons from the clinton administration. but eric holder engineered these pardons. he was all in favor of it. and why? well, because at the end of the administration when this was going on was when hillary clinton had started her run for the senate in new york, and all of these political consultants and others were saying this would help her campaign, it would help her get the puerto rican vote. and so eric holder was willing to sacrifice national security and the victims of these bombings and killings, why? for political advantage.
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now, we talk about many other areas of the justice department including, for example, the environmental division. and we have a whole chapter talking about the gibson guitar raid. and i have to tell you that in itself, again, it's just shocking when you read it. you know, gibson guitar is a storied american guitar maker, been in business for a hundred years. and what happened? the justice department treated them like they were a mob organization or a drug cartel. armed federal agents showed up at their factories and their offices and seized all of their business records, computers and hundreds of thousands of dollars of wood that they were going to use for fingerñi boards under te claim that they had illegally imported this wood from madagascar and india despite the fact that gibson guitar had evidence that, in fact, this wood was perfectly legal in
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india and madagascar. but this was something that was urged by the environmental allies of the administration, organizations like greenpeace and others, and so they get treated -- gibson guitar -- like they are the worst kinds of criminals. now, this case went on and on, and in the end, the justice department entered into what they call agm deferred prosecun agreement. i can tell you that when the justice department enters into what they call a deferred prosecution agreement, it's because they don't have the evidence to go to trial and convict. and, in fact, it's very clear they didn't have the evidence to convict in this case because as part of this agreement, they a agreed to give back all of the wood they had seized. and they said that they wouldn't in the future prevent them from importing it. now, what was interesting about this case was that at one point the justice department seized, again, all this wood from a
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supplier. and this supplier supplies this wood not just to gibson's guitar, but to other guitar makers. but gibson's guitar is the only by tar maker whose -- guitar maker whose, the head of the organization is a prominent conservative who's very outspoken about it. the other guitar makers who received the same wood weren't the object of this kind of a prosecution. now, the contempt for the constitution and the rule of law is quite something. john has gone over that, and the only thing i want to say about that is that you are taking an extreme legal position when all nine justices of the supreme court disagree with you, including your former solicitor general. and yet we have a dozen cases like that, and the solicitor general going from almost always winning their cases to losing most of their cases. that is a sign of how extreme the legal positions are that department is taking. we've got a whole chapter about
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the civil rights division where i used to work. we call it the uncivil rights division. and this isn't just based on our opinions, but it's also based on an inspector general report that was released last year and got almost no media attention. and it goes through, and it describes everything including perjury committed by employees of the civil rights division. or, for example, a case in which a louisiana federal district court judge castigated members of the division, lawyers in the division and folks in the u.s. engaging in behavior that was so bad that he notified the bar associations about it. and what were they doing? well, for example, one of the lawyers in the civil rights division was making anonymous postings to the times-picayune news site. this is the main newspaper down
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there s. and what was she doing? she was making anonymous postings that attacked the defendants in a case that the civil rights division was prosecuting, attacked the defendants, attacked the defendants' lawyers, and, in fact, the attorney who was doing it? [laughter] she was what's called the taint attorney. some of you may know who are lawyers that, you know, when a police officer is involved in some kind of scrape or something else, they have to talk to internal affairs. and when they're talking to internal affairs who's investigating this, they cannot waive -- they cannot assert the fifth amendment. they have to answer the questions. and so the rule is, and this has been established by the courts, that whatever information they give to internal affairs investigators cannot then be used in a prosecution later against them because they couldn't assert their fifth amendment. this particular lawyer at the civil rights division was the
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taint attorney. her job was to protect the rights of the defendants being prosecuted and to make sure that the prosecution team didn't use any of that tainted evidence that they were unable to use, and yet she was putting up anonymous postings attacking the defendants who she's supposed to protect and their lawyers. and she still works at the civil rights division today. and this inspector general's report in our book is filled with other folks, too, doing all kinds of anonymous postings including a woman who when the inspector general was investigating this, lied about it to the inspector general investigators. and the only reason she finally admitted that she had been making anonymous postings -- which included, by the way, confidential legal information -- was because the investigators con fronted her -- confronted her with the e-mail evidence. it, unlike the irs. [laughter]
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and you know what her reaction was? her only regret was that she'd been caught. and this woman was not disciplined for this breach of ethics and professional duties, she wasn't terminated. she still works in the civil rights division today, and she's been treated as a hero. why? well, because her anonymous posting attacked conservatives and any people working in the division who were perceived to be conservative. now, we also talk about the pickford scam which was a settlement that the -- particularly pickford ii, which was a settlement engineered by the holder justice department and the white house which was simply the biggest political payoff in american history using taxpayer funds to buy the votes of members of particular minority groups. a member of the d. of agriculture -- department of agriculture called it the largest scam against federal
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taxpayers in the history of the united states. and in the settlement of this case, there was actually a meeting at the white house run by the political people in which members of the justicec department, the prosecutors actually came over who said we're going to win this case because there's nothing to it. it's a frivolous case. even the own experts hired by the justice department said there's nothing to it, and the white house said is, no, we're settling this case, and we're paying all these people off. holder has on numerous occasions misled congress, he has on numerous occasions said i don't know when asked questions about key issues. and i could tell you something important about that from my own experience, okay? when i was at the justice department, part of my job was preparing my boss to go be testify in front of -- to go testify in front of congress. and we would have a whole team of people who would put together
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elaborate briefing books with a one or two-page briefing paper on every single question we could think of that our boss would get asked about. and thenoa÷ we would have what , well, affectionately, not so affection that itly called murder boards in which we would bring our boss in, and all of us -- and john used to work at the justice department, and he participated in that kind of thing too. the lawyers who had prepared all the briefings, we would get to play our favorite senators and members of congress. [laughter] and our unfavorite members of the senate and congress. and we would ask questions of our boss who was going to go up and testify. and i could tell you there was never a single question in a real hearing that we had not anticipated getting. and that we were able, not able to prepare our boss to be able to answer. so i can tell you that when the attorney general is constantly saying i don't know this answer to question after -- in answer
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to question after question after question from members of congress about key issues and key cases, well, you've got either -- you've got two choices, okay? one, he, frankly, just has a contemptuous and dismissive attitude towards congress, doesn't care about their constitutional oversight function responsibility, and he just doesn't want to answer, or he has a totally incompetent staff who isn't preparing him right. well, i've worked with people at the justice department. the staff, particularly at the highest reaches, is not usually incompetent. but i'll leave it up to you to choose which of those two is going on there. we also cover national security. there's so much to say there, i will just tell you a couple things. one is that he has moved the
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justice department back to the criminal model of dealing with terrorism that was such a failure during the clinton administration. and he has, by the way, opened up more leak investigations of classified information than any prior attorney general combined, but those leak investigations have a very interesting pattern. which is that when they're ableq to find and prosecute low-level individuals, they do so. but all of the leaks that have clearly and obviously come out of the white house have come out of high-up political appointees. everything from all of the release, the dangerous release of information that came out after the killing of osama bin laden identifying seal team six as being involved in it, putting their families -- you know, they're stationed at norfolk --
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putting their families and them in danger to the release of the information about the stuxnet virus which is the virus that we very successfully inserted in iran to slow down their production of a nuclear bomb. all of those leaks there is no -- the justice department doesn't go after the people who do that. all of the leaks that were deliberately engineered by the white house to make the president look good, to make him look tough, eric holder has no interest in doing that. and there is a great story out of that about the tact that, you know, our former secretary of -- about the fact that, you know, our former secretary of defense, robert dates, was so -- robert gates, was so concerned over the leaks coming out of the white house about these kind of issues, that he requested a meeting with tom donilon, the national security adviser, saying he wanted to have a meeting about, quote: new strategic communications approach to the communications.
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and he went to the white house, got into the meeting room, and donilon said, whoa, what is this great new strategic approach you have to communications? and robert gates leaned over and looked at him and said, shut the blank up. [laughter] now, what's to be done about this? well, i'll tell ya, it's very difficult to do anything about this. eric holder and his subordinates have politicized the justice department to a agree that i have never seen before. in fact, we talked to a current this person in particular was talking about one or the other divisions, but this really applies to the whole justice department. ..
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the only way to do anything about this is through new leadership. you need an ethical attorney general and those get chosen only by the president. until we get a new attorney general who's willing to bring the standard department back up as prior and attorney generals of both political parties have done, nothing is going to have declared the department. in fact, you will continue to have a department, particularly
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eric holder, advising the president that he can break the law, ignore the law, change the law as ct just last week. you all may know just a week ago eric holder announced that he's going to provide legal representation to lawyers and paralegals for young illegal aliens who are in the country. now, you can argue about whether or not that is the right thing to do from a public policy standpoint, but he's the attorney general. he supposed to abide by the law. there's a provision in the federal immigration law that prohibits that. so he cannot do that under the law. and yet he blithely says i'm going to do that, we're going to provide the money to do that, despite the fact the federal law says you cannot do the. and that is just another example of the lawlessness that pervades the justice department these days. thanks.
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[applause] >> i'm sure that many of you have comments and questions. we do have microphones in the room. so i will recognize people. i just have a few ground rules. one is please wait until you have the microphone. q., announce your affiliation. three, keep your remarks short. and four, ended them with a question mark. with that i will go over here to todd. microphone over here. there we go. okay. >> todd, executive director of the plf new species center but i've been a longtime colleague of john's and hans' and want to congratulate him and john. but i do want to comment on one thing to do don't think either of you hit but what certainly implied, also implied in the title and that is how could someone like coulter survive these scandals?
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and that's because he's doing obama's bidding. i do disagree with you and i will end with a question, i can talk about civil rights commission and he was not just test in place, he was promoted. even when that perjury was exposed. so i disagree that nothing could be done until the next election. i think that what you wrote is doing is great, so why don't you talk more about exposing the responsibility that goes even higher than the attorney general? >> well, i should say we do that in the book. i mean, the president has exactly the attorney general what he wants. look, it's not that, i mean, you have to be careful with this parallel but the parallel is that, look, eric holder is a lot like a mob lawyer who tells his boss exactly what he needs to be
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able to do whatever he wants. and that's the way this relationships -- relationship works. with regard to perjury is the fact one of the things we cover in the book is that you all may recall that when the new black panther voter intimidation case was dismissed by this justice department, there was testimony under oath before the u.s. commission on civil rights by the head of the civil rights division, tom perez, saying that this decision was made entirely by career civil service lawyers, political appointees, have nothing to do with it. turned out that was completely untrue, and that's not me saying it. that's a federal judge saying it. because judicial watch filed a freedom of information act request to get all internal communication about his dismissal. and when that ended up before a federal judge here in the district of columbia and
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addition of columbia judge ordered the release of some of those communications, a judge said that those communications demonstrated that, in fact, the claim that political appointees were not involved in the dismissal was untrue. and so this individual, tom perez, who was the assistant attorney general of civil rights who clearly lied under oath to the u.s. commission on civil rights was then nominated by the president to be the head of the labor secretary, and was confirmed. said he was basically rewarded for that behavior. >> in addition, mr. peres had conducted government business extensively on a personal computer at home which is against all guidelines and all rules for federal government workers. he had discussed policy prescriptions. he had discussed settlements which were highly controversial. and the justice department admitted this had been done.
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they admitted there were hundreds and hundreds of these incidences. and, in fact, they have occasionally acted against this recurring habit of political appointees in the obama admission from conducting government -- about this sort of off the book. lisa jackson, the epa administrator, left rather suddenly and precipitously in part because she was conducting business using an alias, richard windsor, for much of her work. richard windsor of it was an amalgamation she had worked in and her dog's name. so they occasionally have been interested in this but when it comes to key players who offer them legal advice and that they rely upon, they ignore this. mr. perez was not meant to be secretary of labor despite these glaring violations of ethical standards and norms. >> other questions? over here. >> hi.
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i'm deborah weiss from frontpage magazine, and my question is, as you know we finally have a select committee for the benghazi incident. but if they find a wrongdoing by high of political officials in this administration, a finding of something wrong isn't really helpful and less you can be prosecuted, and i stand from dod today that would be the one has to do that, and it doesn't sound like it would happen from what you're saying. do you have any comment on how you see that playing out? >> the department of justice's record of following prosecutorial standards is rather indifferent. you might remember that the house of representatives actually censured the attorney general first time this ever happen in history for refusing to turn over documents in the "fast and furious" gunrunning scandal, which is an appalling misuse of the partner resource. it in the deaths of u.s. border agent and hundreds of mexican nationals.
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those document are still being withheld to this day, they are the subject of litigation. well, the statutes say that when congress censures an administration official, that has to be transmitted into the is a turn for the district of colombia, and that when the u.s. attorney of the district on hester determination as to what to do about that. that was never transmitted. it's likely against the law. the department of justice not only disagreed with the congress had done the censure, attorney general holder, they refused to comply with the law effectively giving the middle finger to congress and its constitutional ability to confront the executive branch. >> other questions? down here. >> thank you. i'm the congressional correspondent with the hispanic outlook magazine. two quick questions. what do you know about jeh
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johnson and how did he get the position as secretary of homeland security? what's his connection with the department of justice? eric holder is saying he's going -- [inaudible] do you have any idea who might be in line to replace in? >> i can address the second part of the question. he's not leaving. i think he is the safest in america. for one thing the president wants them. for another thing, whenever there's a fork in her, the attorney general has a delicate position. he is the presidents appointee which means he certainly is, you know, wants to and should follow the president's prosecutorial emphasis, and and his priorities. and every justice department is free to emphasize its own priorities. but he also has to uphold the rule of all, and whether it's griffin bell or been so bloody under democratic presidents or
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ed meese and richard thornburgh under republican presidents. attorney general have found a way to straddle the delicate balance. in the case of attorney general holder, every time there's been a fork in the road and political priorities must be met and that there's the rule of law, he is gone and the director of the political priorities. should he leave the office of attorney general before president obama's term is up, he would be subject to all kinds of subpoenas that he would have to answer as a private citizen. all kinds of cours of course aps he would have to answer to all kinds of requests for documents he could no longer stonewall or count on stonewalling. and he basically in his new job title would be permanent witness. so i don't think he wants the. so you will be a attorney general i can almost assure we predict until noon of january 20th, 2017.
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[inaudible] >> i can't really answer questions about that. [inaudible] >> i don't believe so. >> david with the national center for public policy research. hans, you mentioned briefly about politico embedded within the justice department. this was a big scandal with the bush administration that they were hiring people on a political basis. how has the justice department bit about hiring clinical appointees in career position? >> they make the bush administration look like amateurs. if you look at the inspector general report, it's not just politico's but it's hiring from advocacy organizations. so, for example, if look at inspector general report that was released last week you will find in the civil rights division voting section the majority of the large there have all been hired from just five advocacy organizations, the
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mexican american legal defense fund, laurent south, the aclu. so those folks go aikido -- la raza. they don't make the transition to being government lawyers. because when you leave private practice or belief and/or position like that into good work for the justice department, you have to transition into being a government lawyer whose job it is to represent the public as a whole. and i can tell you that people that have come from those organizations, they just now think they're still working for those organizations but that the governments power and the government resources to do what they want. christian adams and a couple of years to come we talked about this in this book, we did a foia request or the resumes of all the career people that have been hired into the civil rights division's, at the start of the administration. and 100% of the people hired were clearly hired on the basis
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of their politics and ideology. and infected the inspector general's report if you look at it and it has this whole paragraph where it talks about how in the hiring process the civil rights division clearly overlooked and didn't hire lawyers with stellar credentia credentials, from disfavored organizations and firms. >> hans, i'll get to another question in just a second but one of the things, although you, talk about in the book had to do with the department of justice's role during the bush administration in terms of providing legal advice regarding the conduct of war and detainees. politically controversial and the role that eric holder plays and the office of professional responsibility played with respect to the investigations. can you talk to us about that? >> and this really shows how
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politics drives the attorney general, not the law. the was a great deal of controversy over the techniques used by cia interrogators and others in trying to get information out of terrorists, and guantánamo bay. but at the end of the bush administration and the justice department set up a team of prosecutors, career prosecutors, not political appointees, to take a look at all the actions that the interrogators and others had taken, and they've done it according to legal memo issued by the justice department, but they took a look at all the actions these interrogators had done to see if any of them had violated criminal laws and should be prosecuted. and with the exception of one contractor, not even an employee, they concluded that, in fact, there was no prosecutions to be had. they had followed the law. now, when eric holder came in,
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what does he do? e. reopens that entire investigation -- he reopens that entire investigation to look again at the cia operatives to see if they had violated the law. and he admitted in testimony before congress that he did it without reading the extensive memo that the career lawyers have put into the files on this. i can tell you, john can tell you, we'v john tim kelley, we he all worked there, they wrote extensive legal memos on each of the individuals they looked at saying, here are the facts, here is the applicable law, here's our recommendations as to what to do about it. and yet he reopens the investigation without reading any of the legal memos prepared by these prior prosecutors, which meant that once again for two years, these cia employees
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had to hire lawyers, were put through the wringer again of an investigation, and that the end of all that they decided, well, gosh, looks like the first people who looked at this were right. after putting these cia folks, who were working as hard as they could to protect all of us, through what was a completely unneeded nightmare all over again. >> there was a famous poem about prosecutorial abuse written in the 1960s by a fellow named tw grant called the incredible bread machine. l. gates was so taken with history, the microsoft prosecution 2,100,000 copies and distribute to all of his employees. the entrepreneur has been persecuted and dragged before the court for sentencing. and he's asked if let's take a
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final statement, and he says i just have one question. why is this being done to me? the judge looks down upon him and says, in complex times the rule of law has proved itself sufficient to we much prefer the rule of men. it is vastly more efficient. and sadly that's the kind of justice department we are heading towards. the rule of all which is the cornerstone of our liberties, our freedoms and our constitutional system is increasingly being eroded for the sake of political convenience and the sake of personal agendas. and it's very sad because i can assure you it's very difficult to build a rule of law, very easy read to become the rule of men. once it's of the rule of men, it's actually difficult to walk that back. it is possible. we have seen the justice department restored, but it requires an awful lot of effort. and this is something that we all have to pay attention to because it will be much
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reclamation work to do in future years. >> i'm involved in -- [inaudible] the office of personnel management. to question. first, the new administration in 2017, suppose one of us, what opportunity is there for the attorney general to clean house under current civil service laws and get rid of all of these racial is and other people that were hired improperly? does this require new legislation? can the attorney general just announced we are fined 150-200 people that misused -- career attorneys who misused their authority? and second, specifically, i don't know if this is
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commendable, what, if anything, was done to discipline the attorneys who were responsible for trying to frame senator ted stevens and were so castigated by the judge were illegally withholding exculpatory evidence that probably would have led to his acquittal in the first instance? >> well, i'll take him it would be very difficult because once you get into a career slot, even if you've been put into it in aa way you shouldn't have been, it's very difficult to get rid of folks. and, in fact, one of the things we talk about is the fact that once again, out of the inspector general's report, right at the end of the clinton administration there were all these positions open in the civil rights division. these were career slots. and when the u.s. supreme court issued its final decision in bush v. gore and clinton folks knew that al gore is not coming in as president, the political
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folks in the division and said we have to fill all those career positions before inauguration, january 20. they basically, in a federal government, that normally takes, if you are fast, six months to advertise and fill a position, that can take up to a year usually, they got every single slot except one filled in three weeks. and the personnel folks there, the career personnel folks said they had never seen anything like this. now, this administration is basically taken a bat and on exponentially further. and so they have filled every single career slot with someone who is ideologically and politically and ally with them, and those of the people who will be there when a new administration comes in. if it's a republican
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administration a will have an extremely difficult time. >> other questions? >> now, we don't cover the ted stevens issue. look, we ran out of room last night in fact -- out of room. [laughter] every single day something else would come up with the justice department, something went wrong or scoring a. and i can think of we've got to get that in the book, but we had to call him into it and we just couldn't get everything in it spent i think ted stevens happened on bush's watch. >> this may just be volume one. >> other questions? >> any closing thoughts from our panelists? >> just that the media's responsibility to not go
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unnoticed. this is the media that gave round-the-clock coverage to the relatively non-contra business all of a few u.s. attorneys in the second bush term for simply not carrying out the president's priorities, which is something the president has a right to expect. some u.s. attorneys have not carried out the president wishes. tasered out of the entire first term and then the beginning of a second term they were let go, replaced by others, which is a common occurrence. bill clinton fired every u.s. attorney in the united states, all 93 of them, the day he took office in 1993. regardless of what cases were pending, regardless of what record they had come regardless of their success rate. he fired every single one of them, and it was his right. bush tries replaced at the end it becomes, caused a scandal to assure. for the news media do so extensively cover that, frankly mountain out of a molehill and
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then to allow this record to basically go at it has with precious little comment, i mean, i'll give you an example. the irs fleet, story broke in front. a friday document a dumb. it was only late yesterday afternoon at "the new york times" ran the first word on this. it took 72 hours for the newspaper supposedly to even mention the irs e-mail scandal. i mean, where he can you go from here? abc and nbc news have yet to mention it, as far as a new. have yet to mention it. i think that the fact that there's an alternative media out there now, internet outlets, cable outlets, other outlets that where some of these stories can be explored in depth is perhaps one of our few celebrations. i think it's incumbent upon all
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of us to take responsibility for this as well. tell our friends, our relatives, our neighbors. your liberties are in jeopardy. when an administration can go into court, and they didn't even mention the time to which they could -- daylily marched to this being poor and said we can censure books if we wish to. it's within our power. for the administration of march into court and say, we want the power to put a gps tracking device on your vehicle, even if you're not commit a crime without a court warrant or search work, this is frightening stuff. this is not the government our founding fathers bequeathed to us but i think all of us have a personal responsibility to our friends, neighbors and relatives our civil liberties are in jeopardy. and we have to pay attention. >> the one thing i would say, i don't care whether you're a liberal, conservative, or moderate. you should be concerned about this. and if, for example, you're a liberal and you like the policy
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outcomes you were saying, you should understand that those policy outcomes are being driven by an attorney general who is basically not following a law passed by congress and signed by a prior president. and if eric holder can do that and can get the kind of policy outcomes you as a liberal want, well, you know, that means that when a republican president comes in and appoint a republican attorney general, perhaps it also will take a as a lesson and not enforce laws that you now like, or take actions which you don't like the public policy outcomes. that's what happens when you have a justice department that is not anchored in the law. you know, it's the job of congress to change the law in a way that you like and others like. they are the ones who are supposed of the public policy
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debate, along with the president. is not the attorney general's job, and he doesn't have the authority to basically veto, have a one man, or a woman and veto in the future, of laws passed by congress, by popular elected representatives of the american people and signed into law by the president. it is extremely dangerous. and it is a threat to our liberty. i said at the beginning and i will end with the. i worked at the justice department. i can tell you, it's very easy to abuse your authority and abuse your power and to get away with it. and you do not want people like that working the justice department indeed not want an attorney general who approves of that kind of behavior, regardless of party. >> i want to thank you overcome her, and please join me in thanking our panelists. [applause]
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>> [inaudible conversations] >> c-span to providing live coverage of the u.s. senate floor proceedings and key public policy events, and every weekend booktv, now for 15 years the only television network devoted to nonfiction books and authors. c-span2, created by the cable tv industry and brought to you as a public service by your local cable, television or satellite provider. watch us in hd, like us on facebook and followers on twitter. >> book tv asks what are you reading this summer? >> well, i'm reading right now american injustice in the age of the wealth gap, fascinating book, how crimes come and
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particularly in, stemming from a 2000 a financial crash, nobody has been held accountable in the criminal justice system yet. average citizens who, i don't know, whether if they're illegal immigrants or people who are on the welfare system or if you just hang out on the corner, if they are poor people, they encounter the criminal justice system regularly, but people who are committing crimes off the streets just about to do with it. i'm also reading capital in the 21st century about income inequality. fascinating book. ..


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